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Many older adults going online to discuss, learn about sex

Photo: seniorspsychology.com.au

Photo: seniorspsychology.com.au

By Liza BerdychevskyUniversity of Illinois , June 11, 2015 – CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Forget those ageist stereotypes that senior citizens have little interest in sex and are befuddled by technology. Many older adults are going online to dish about the joys of sex and swap advice about keeping their mojos working well into their twilight years, a new study found.

“Many older people preserve both a high interest in sex and a high involvement in sexual activities,” said researcher Liza Berdychevsky, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois who researches sexual behavior and well-being. “The popularity of sex-related discussions in seniors’ online communities suggests that, in a reality of limited alternatives for open and direct sex-related communication, seniors are finding channels to satisfy their needs for information and support.”

Berdychevsky and co-author Galit Nimrod, a faculty member at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, conducted an online ethnographic study – or netnography – in which they examined discussions of sexual topics in 14 online communities geared toward adults age 50 and older.

Seven of the websites were based in the U.S., four in the U.K., two in Canada and one in Australia.

Berdychevsky said online communities offer notable potential for helping people cope with the three primary sexual vulnerabilities that occur in later life: health issues and life circumstances that affect sexuality, difficulties communicating with health care providers about sex-related problems, and limited access to sexual health information.

The researchers drew their data from an existing dataset, which archived all the boards’ messages for a one-year period, and they filtered the posts using various keywords related to sex. While sex-related discussion threads were a small portion of these messages, the researchers found that the threads with sexual content were quite popular, with some posts viewed as many as 5,000 times.

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